On the fourth anniversary of her death, lets remember Hazel Jane Dickens, bluegrass singer, songwriter, double bassist and guitarist. Singer of pro-union and feminist songs, a clarion vocal advocate for coal miners, working people and the downtrodden.
Below she sings Joe Hill's outstanding song about Elizabeth Gurly Flynn, the original rebel girl, feminist, wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World) and activist.
Hazel Jane Dickens was born June 1st 1935, in Montcalm, West Virginia, U.S.A. One of 11 children, she grew up in a family whose survival depended on the coal industry. Her father was a Baptist preacher and a forceful singer, who hauled timber to feed the household. Her brothers were miners and one of her sisters cleaned the house for a supervisor at the mines.
A reluctant feminist role model, Hazel said she was originally scared to write about issues like sexism and the oppression of women.
Her music was characterised by a high lonesome, singing style. If you like old time, country and bluegrass music, and a dose of left wing politics, you will probably like Hazel Dicken's work. Cultural blogger John Pietaro noted that " Dickens didn't just sing the anthems of labour, she lived them and her place on many a picket line,staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her to the cause."
Hazel Dickens - Rebel Girll
Hazel Dickens - Fire in the Soul
Hazel Dickens - Old and in the way